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Special Tourist Tax to end tolls on the Via do Infante

tollsThe Left Bloc has proposed that a special tourist tax is created to enable users of the Algarve’s Via do Infante to use the motorway for free.

This is one of measures that the party presented during last week’s debate on the 2018 State Budget.

The Left Bloc idea is that overnight stays are taxed in the Algarve’s registered hotels and other designated accommodation at the rate of 1.5% to 2.5% of the total bill, excluding VAT. It is not yet clear whether this proposed tax would extend to Alojamento Local short-term tourist rental properties as any additional tax would deter landlords from registering.

The money raised would be used to fund the toll concession holder, instead of the company collecting toll fees from motorway users, topped up by a government subsidy.

If there was any money left over, this could be used for other Algarve infrastructure and communications projects.

Local Left Bloc MP, João Vasconcelos, said that the Government had registered some interest in the proposal and would study it and respond by Thursday this coming week when the budget discussions are to be concluded.

Vasconcelos was a founder member of the anti-tolls group, CUVI, that still seeks the abolition of the Via do Infante tolls, as promised by the present prime minister in a pre-election statement that was quickly forgotten when he gained power.

The MP said that scrapping the tolls is his preferred option but that a tourist tax would be a good alternative.

Rui André, the mayor of Monchique council, proposed this summer that the Algarve’s councils should charge a tourist tax of one euro per person per night, which would be used to pay the motorway tolls concession holder, thus enabling free motorway travel.

In the first six months of 2017, motorists paid €14.8 million in tolls to use the Via do Infante, €468,000 more than in the same period of 2016. This still did not cover the amount due to the concession holder as, under secret clauses in the concession contract, the taxpayer is obliged to make up any shortfall based on pre-toll traffic volumes.

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